The most powerful skill agents can develop to build trust with their clients is communication, according to research.
But sadly, there is a dramatic difference between how the majority of real estate agents define ‘good communication skills’ and the definition held by consumers.
According to the Consumer Perceptions of Real Estate surveys held in 2015 and last year, both buyers and sellers define good communication as responding promptly to queries (response times), following up and doing what you say you will do (reporting in), and being friendly and empathetic (good listening).
Agents in contrast, tend to define good communication as having a great sales spiel and talking a lot – about themselves.
The research below was carried out by the California Association of Realtors was shared with me by @CAllActionco at the INMAN Connect Conference in New York.
This graphic shows the expected behaviour by consumers as to an appropriate response time for the real estate agent to return their inquiry about a property to the actual time it took for the agent to get back to them.
Here’s the thing to notice: 94% of consumers expected the agent to get back to them within an hour of their inquiry, but only 36% of agents did so. There were 64% of agents who took two hours or longer to get back to the customer with 10% taking more than a day.
Now as an agent, you can insist that such expectations are unrealistic and your definition of communication is the correct one. But here’s the thing. As Harry Selfridge, founder of the Selfridge department store in London said in 1909, ‘the customer is always right’.
Choosing to define what success looks like in a way that is different to your customers comes at a cost. And that cost is an absence of trust. And that absence of trust has a negative flow on across the transaction, impacts on the types of referals you get and seriously impacts on the likelihood of repeat business.
One of the simplest ways for agents to stand out from the crowd of their competitors is to do things differently. This doesn’t have to be radical – sometimes just getting good at the old school skills like communication can have a huge impact.
The Consumer Perceptions research found that very few agents have excellent communication skills, but those who did really stood out for their clients who spoke highly of them to friends and referred a lot of business, establishing a long term relationship.
The research shows only 11% of buyers said agents had good follow up skills, compared to 33% of vendors. Equally 12% of buyers said agents had good response times while 35% of vendors said their agent performed well in this area.
So if you want to stand out from the crowd, it’s easy. Respond quickly to buyers calls, and you’ll outperform nearly 90% of your competitors. Respond quickly to vendors and you’re ahead of 65% of the competition. Build trust and the relationship starts from there.
Time to pick up the phone!
4 Ways to respond faster to clients
You’re busy. Really busy. And client demands that you always respond quickly are unreasonable – especially if it’s 2am or you’re taking an hour to attend your child’s school concert.
But there are a host of ways to help clients feel you’ve heard their inquiry and helped them out. Here are some tips:
- Put on Out of Office or an updated voicemail
If you’re unable to respond to requests for information for a few hours, put your out-of-office on, and let clients know when they can expect a return call or who they can talk to if the issue is urgent. That’s all they really want. And it really is that simple but so few do it. An updated voicemail message is also more helpful than a generic one and resolves the number one issue clients have – did you get my message, how long should I wait to expect contact?
Chatbots can provide a great service to both consumers and agents. They can start the ball rolling on an inquiry, provide basic information, send reports and help you qualify genuine leads. Check out Holmes from Structurely. http://www.structurely.com/
- Send a personal video:
Your phone shoots video. So if you’re out with the family taking some well needed time off, shoot a very short video at the park, beach to respond to your client, tell them you got their call, that you’re with family but their business is important to you and let them know when you expect to be able to call them back. The combination of them being able to see where you are and see your face adds to the sincerity and creates a better connection than an email.
- Send a report by SMS
Client X desperately wants information about 27 Jones St. You’re out of the office. Your options are to ring your assistant and ask her to send it, or wait til you’re back in the office, right? Wrong. You’ve got your client’s mobile number, you know the property. Go to your RP Data Pro mobile app, build a report with a click and send it in seconds. Minds blown.